Election 2020: 7 things that will happen after the polls close in Ohio

Sometimes absentee ballots arrive without the proper information or a signature. Those are separated out and voters are notified via mail and given a chance to correct the information so their vote can be counted.  In this file photo from 2016 Montgomery County Board of Elections Deputy Director Steve Harsman sorts through problem ballots. LYNN HULSEY/staff
Sometimes absentee ballots arrive without the proper information or a signature. Those are separated out and voters are notified via mail and given a chance to correct the information so their vote can be counted. In this file photo from 2016 Montgomery County Board of Elections Deputy Director Steve Harsman sorts through problem ballots. LYNN HULSEY/staff

Polls close in Ohio at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. People waiting in line to vote at that time will be permitted to cast ballots.

Here’s what happens next:

Step 1: Bipartisan delivery

Bipartisan teams of precinct election officials return to the board office with all the paper ballots, encrypted USB flash drives and memory cards containing the votes cast at the polls.

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Step 2: Counting begins

Boards tabulate results from absentee ballots, early voting and Election Day voting. Provisional ballots are not counted until voter eligibility is verified.

Results are uploaded to the Ohio secretary of state’s website using secure systems and posted online by counties and the state. The number of outstanding, uncounted absentee and provisional ballots will be noted.

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These absentee ballots have been scanned into the system at the Montgomery County Board of Elections
These absentee ballots have been scanned into the system at the Montgomery County Board of Elections

Credit: Lynn Hulsey

Credit: Lynn Hulsey

Step 3: Provisional ballots verified

After the election, board staff verify eligibility of voters who cast provisional ballots and count absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 that arrive by Nov. 13.

Bipartisan, four-person county election boards vote on provisional ballots and remaking absentee ballots that would not scan because of unclear markings, damage or other issues.

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Precinct Election Official guides at the Montgomery County Board of Elections
Precinct Election Official guides at the Montgomery County Board of Elections

Credit: Lynn Hulsey

Credit: Lynn Hulsey

Step 4: Certification deadline

The deadline to certify results is Nov. 18. Those final, official results will be announced by the Ohio Secretary of State.

Automatic recounts begin for very close races and ties. Recounts can also be requested and paid for by a candidate.

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Step 5: Audit verification

A mandatory post-election audit verifies results for a certain percentage of the vote in pre-selected races.

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Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, talks about a ballot scanner.
Jan Kelly, director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, talks about a ballot scanner.

Credit: Lynn Hulsey

Credit: Lynn Hulsey

Step 6: Dispute deadline

If the recount or audit results in a vote change, the certified results are amended and reported to the secretary of state.

The deadline for resolving election disputes, including all state recounts and court challenges, is Dec. 8.

Step 7: Electoral College meets

The Electoral College meets and votes for president and vice president on Dec. 14. Those votes are counted by the U.S. Congress on Jan. 6.

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